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II. Yet it is less intolerable when
1. The law is at default.
2. It is taken openly. III. Between friends, forgiveness should exclude revenge. IV. Public revenges are generally successful; private revenges mostly
V.-OF ADVERSITY. (1625.) It was a high 1 speech of Seneca 2 (after the manner of the Stoics), that the good things which belong to Prosperity are to be wished, but the good things that belong to Adversity are to be admired' ('Bona rerum secundarum optabilia, adversarum mirabilia'). Certainly, if miracles 3 be the command over nature, they appear most in Adversity. It 4 is yet a higher speech of his than the other (much too high for a heathen), 'It is true greatness to have in one the frailty of a man, and the security5 of a God' (Vere magnum habere fragilitatem hominis, securitatem . Dei'). This would have done better in poesy, where transcendences 6 are more allowed; and the poets, indeed, have been busy with it; for it is in effect the thing which is figured in that strange fiction of the ancient poets, which seemeth not to be without mystery;8 nay, and to have some approach to the state of a Christian, 'that Hercules, when he went to unbind Prometheus (by whom human nature is represented), sailed the length of the great ocean in an earthen pot or pitcher,' lively describing Christian Resolution that saileth in the frail bark of the flesh thorough 10 the waves of the world.
But to speak in a mean, 11 the virtue of 12 Prosperity is temperance, the virtue of Adversity is fortitude, which in niorals is the more heroical virtue.
Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, Adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of God's favour. Yet even in the Old Testament, if you listen to David's harp, you shall hear as many
ersé-like 13 airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured more
in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon.
Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and Adversity is not without comforts and hopes. We see in needleworks and embroideries it is more pleasing to have a lively 14 work upon a sad and solemn ground, than to have a dark and melancholy work upon a lightsome ground : judge, therefore, of the pleasure of the heart by the pleasure of the eye.
Certainly virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant when they are incensed 15 or crushed : for Prosperity doth best discover 16 vice, but Adversity doth best discover virtue.
NOTES ON ESSAY V.
1. 'high'-noble; but Bacon seems to use the word here, and
twice more in the next few lines, with some tinge of the
meaning of boastful. 2. Seneca." A famous Roman philosopher and rhetorician, and
tutor to the Emperor Nero. Though attached himself to the Stoic school of philosophy (see note 25, Essay II), he acquired enormous wealth, and had a sumptuous palace at Rome, country villas, and splendid gardens. In A.D. 65 he was condemned for conspiracy, and ordered to put himself to death, which failing to accomplish by bleeding and hemlock,
he at last effected by suffocation in a warm bath. 3. 'miracles '—really, occurrences which excite wonder. Bacon
means, ‘Doubtless, if miracles are exhibitions of the possession of marvellous power over Nature, then the greatest miracles appear in adversity; for the self-control of the conquest of circumstance which many persons exhibit under great suffering is more marvellous than any possession of power over the inanimate world.'
So also, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city'-Prov.
xvi, 32 4. •It.' The antecedent to this pronoun is the higher speech'
Many readers of Seneca have been led by their lofty religious tone to believe that he must have had some acquaintance with Christianity; nor is this improbable. Bacon may intend to imply
this in saying that the passage here referred to is 'too high for a heath.n.'
5. security'-freedom from care. The word, as used here, does
not bear its modern meaning of safety, but its strict etymological meaning (Latin se and cura) of having no apprehension of danger, a meaning which it commonly bore in Bacon's time.
In this now obsolete sense of the word the sleepers in a burning house, or a blind man walking unconsciously towards a precipice, are secure, because they are not aware of their danger.
Gideon smote the host; for the host was secure'- Judges viii, 2.
The more thy fortune frowns the more oppose'-DRYDEN.
• Lie still, dry dust, secure of change'-Tennyson. 6. transcendences '-lofty flights, exaggerations; hyperbolical
expressions which are common in the figurative language of
poetry, but out of place in matter-of-fact prose. 7. in effect:-in reality. 6. mystery'-secret meaning.
Important truths still let your falles hold,
And moral mysteries with art unfold'-GRANVILLE. The mythological fable which Bacon refers to is that Prometheus (whose name signifies forethought, as that of his brother Epimetheus signifies afterthought) stole fire from heaven and taught men all useful arts. As a punishment, he was chained on a rock, and an eagle every day devoured his entrails, which were renewed every night. Hercules killed the eagle, and released the sufferer.
Bacon, in his forced explanation of the mystery of this fable, makes Hercules signify 'Christian fortitude' (perhaps
he means Christ himself?), and Prometheus human nature. 9. •lively'-adverb for livelily, ie, vividly. So also maniy,
masterly, orderly, are used as adverbs by Shakespeare. 10. thorough'—the same word as through. 'He shall throughly
purge his floor'—Matt, iii, 12. So also thorough-fare (i.e. a way going through); and thorough-lights (i.e. windows open
ing through a building). 11. in a mean-without exaggeration; leaving transcendences.'
• virtue of '-virtue engendered by. 13. herse-like'-solemn, mournful, funereal. 14. lively'— bright in colour; as 'sad' means dark-coloured. 15. incensed'-burnt. The passage contains an allusion to the
burning of incense as an act of sacrificial worship. 16. discover'-disclose, reveal, uncover.
‘Go, draw aside the curtains, and discover
ANALYSIS OF ESSAY V. 1. Heathens have spoken nobly of adversity:
2. Fable of Prometheus. II. The blessing of adversity :
1. It engenders fortitude.
not unmentioned in the Old.
VI.-OF SIMULATION AND DISSIMULATION.
(1625.) DISSIMULATION is but a faint a kind of policy, or wisdom; for its asketh a strong wit and a strong heart to know when to tell truth, and to do it: therefore it is the weaker sort of politics 4 that are the great dissemblers.
Tacitus saith, ' Livia sorted 5 well with the arts of her husband, and dissimulation of her son;' attributing arts or policy to Augustus, and dissimulation to Tiberius; and again, when Mucianus encourageth Vespasian to take arms against Vitellius, he saith,6 We rise not against the piercing judgment of Augustus, nor the extreme caution or closeness of Tiberius. These properties of arts or policy, and dissimulation or closeness, are indeed habits and faculties several,7 and to be distinguished; for if a man have that 8 penetration of judgment as he can discern what things are to be laid open, and what to be secreted, and what to be showed at half-lights, and to whom and when (which indeed are arts of state, and arts of life, 10 as Tacitus well calleth them), to him a habit of dissimulation is a hindrance and a poorness. But if a man cannot attain to that judgment, then it is left to him generallyil to be close, and a dissembler : for where a man cannot choose or vary in particulars, there it is good to take the safest and wariest way in general, like the going softly by one that cannot well see. Certainly,
the ablest men that ever were have had all an openness and frankness of dealing, and a name of certainty and veracity: but then they were like horses well managed, for they could tell passing well when to stop or turn; and at such times when they thought the case indeed required dissimulation, if then they used it, it came to pass that the former opinion spread abroad, of their good faith and clearness of dealing, made them almost invisible.1
There be three degrees of this hiding and veiling of a man's self: the first, closeness, reservation, and secrecy; when a man leaveth himself without observation, or without hold to be taken, what he is : the second, dissimulation in the negative; when a man lets fall signs and arguments, that he is not that he is : and the third, simulation in the affirmative; when a man industriously and expressly feigns and pretends to be that he is not.
For the first of these, secrecy, it is indeed the virtue of a Confessor ; 14 and assuredly the secret man heareth many confessions; for who will open himself to a blab or a babbler ? But if a man be thought secret, it inviteth discovery, 15 as the more close air sucketh in the more open; and, as in confession, the revealing is not for worldly use, but for the ease of a man's heart, so secret men come to the knowledge of many things in that kind; while men rather discharge their minds than impart their minds.16 In few words, mysteries are due to secrecy.17 Besides (to say truth), nakedness is uncomely, as well in mind as body; and it addeth no small reverence to men's manners and actions, if they be not altogether open. As for talkers and futile persons, 18 they are commonly vain and credulous withal : for he that talketh what he knoweth, will also talk what he knoweth not; therefore set it down that a habit of secrecy is both politic and moral : 19 and in this part it is good that a man's face give his tongue leave to speak ; 20 for the discovery?
21 of a man's self, by the tracts of his countenance, is a great weakness and betraying, by how much it is many times more marked 22 and believed than a man's words.